Thousands of UM students moved back into the residential college dorm rooms last week in preparation for the new academic year.
University of Miami freshman Brittani Campelo held one end of a bed sheet and pulled it taut across one edge of her mattress, not letting go until her mother Monica tucked in the other end of the sheet. Standing directly behind them was 18-year-old Christine Callahan, removing a few items from a neatly packed box. And over in the corner of the room, Brittani’s father, Jorge, unpacked a laptop computer and fiddled with the Internet connection.
It was Move-In Day for Brittani, Christine, and thousands of other UM freshmen, who began arriving on the Coral Gables campus last week, unpacking book bags, boxes, and carts with the assistance of their parents, siblings, and friends marking the start of the new academic year.
For the majority, it’s their first time living away from home for an extended period of time.
“It’s a little nerve racking, knowing that I’ll be away from home for so long,” said Brittani, as she and Christine, her new college roommate, looked over their new digs on the third floor of McDonald Tower in Hecht Residential College. “But at the same time, I’m excited to get the chance to meet new people and start college.”
The two roommates, who both plan to major in biology, said UM has made the process of adjusting to college life a lot easier, matching and providing them with each other’s contact information so they could communicate well before they arrived on campus—standard practice for the Department of Residence Halls.
“A lot of our students have never had to share a bedroom before let alone live with someone for nine and a half months,” said Jon Baldessari, associate director of residence halls. “That can be a big adjustment. That’s why we encourage them to dialogue with each other before they meet.”
Christine Callahan, left, and Brittani Campelo meet Sebastian on Move-In Day.
Brittani and Christine communicated initially on Facebook and then via telephone, discussing and agreeing on who would bring which items. Brittani brought the microwave oven and couch. Christine, the refrigerator and digital television set.
“I would have been a lot more anxious had we not communicated beforehand,” said Christine, who is from Maryland and has a twin sister at UM.
Last Thursday, as they settled into their room at Hecht, which for the first time along with Stanford Residential College will be exclusively occupied by freshmen, the two discovered they had more in common than they initially discovered. Both enjoy sports—Brittani plays soccer and lacrosse while Christine likes volleyball—and both are thinking about buying bikes through UM’s UBike program.
But there was still work to be done. Monica Campelo, Brittani’s mother, reminded her about the importance of organization, while father Jorge reminisced about his own college days and how roommate matching didn’t exist in his time.
“I met and communicated with my roommates for the first time when I got to college (Fredonia State),” he said. “I roomed with a farmer from mid-Pennsylvania and a young man from Buffalo. Luckily, we got along great. But the way UM and other colleges are doing it now, giving students an opportunity to talk before they meet, is just great.”